Report29 Nov 2015

Masai and Tola build on their momentum in Alcobendas – cross-country round-up


Linet Masai cruises to another impressive victory, this time in Alcodendas (© Enrique Yuste)

Linet Masai has struggled with illness and injury in recent years but the 2009 world 10,000m champion is rounding into some good form again.

A week after winning in Soria, Spain, she travelled about 200km south and decimated an international line-up at the 34th edition of the Cross Internacional de la Constitucion in Alcobendas on Sunday (29).

A three-time runner-up at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, Masai showed glimmers of that form on the park circuit in Madrid’s northern suburb as she dominated the senior women’s race in 28:41 to regain the title she won seven years ago when she was a junior.

Ireland’s two-time European cross country champion Fionnuala McCormack (nee Britton) was second in 29:17 while Spain’s Trihas Gebre – the leading non-African finisher at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships Guiyang 2015 this March – was an isolated third in 29:52.

Britton and Gebre will face each other again in two weeks’ time at the European Cross Country Championships in Hyeres, France where they will both be in the hunt for medals.

A week after winning the Great Ethiopian Run on the roads over 10km in Addis Ababa, Tamirat Tola showed his versatility by claiming victory in the senior men’s 9.28km race ahead of reigning champion Timothy Toroitich from Uganda and world cross-country bronze medallist Muktar Edris, also from Ethiopia.

Tola, whose repertoire also includes a 27:22.64 10,000m and a best time of 2:06:17 for the marathon, had the company of Toroitich until the seventh kilometre but the latter faded badly in the closing stages.

The Ethiopian broke the tape in 29:28 to become the first Ethiopian winner of the men’s race in Alcobendas since Gebre Gebremariam defended his title in 2009, with Toroitich losing some 37 seconds on the winner in the last two kilometres. Edris was third in 30:16.

Another Spanish race, the 24th edition of the Cross Hiru-Herri which took place in Burlada on Sunday, produced home wins for Abdelaziz Merzoughi in the 9.8km men’s race in 28:55 and Paula Gonzalez in the 6km women’s race in 19:47.

African juniors dominate proceedings in Leffrinckoucke

At the Cross de l’Acier in Leffrinckoucke, East African juniors dominated the senior races.

In the men’s race over 9.95km, Kenya’s world junior cross-country bronze medallist Alfred Ngeno beat the Ethiopian duo of Leul Gebrselassie and Yihulign Adane to win in 30:06 while Guiyang silver medallist Dera Dida led an Ethiopian clean sweep in the 6.65km women’s race, crossing the line in 24:13. Her compatriots, African junior 5000m silver medallist Sintayehu Lewetegn and Bezunesh Getachew, came home four and five seconds adrift respectively.

Up-and-coming Belgian distance runner Louise Carton took the spoils at the CrossCup van West-Vlaanderen in Roeselare on Sunday.

The 21-year-old won the 6.25km race in 22:21, nine seconds ahead of Sweden’s 20-year-old Sarah Lahti.

Comprising the podium in the senior women’s race was the 42-year-old Veerle Dejaeghere.

Having recently sealed the Olympic qualifying time for the marathon, Dejaeghere returned to her favoured surface to finish third in 22:38 ahead of strong cross-country exponents such as compatriot Almensh Belete (22:48) and Jip Vastenburg (22:51) from the Netherlands.

Kenya’s Alex Kibet won the men’s 10km race in 30:23, two seconds ahead of the local star Isaac Kimeli, who was second in the European under-23 5000m this summer.

At the Carsolina Cross in Trieste on Sunday, Patrick Nasti won the senior men’s race in 25:49 with 2012 European cross-country champion Andrea Lalli a non-finisher just four weeks after finishing 11th at the New York Marathon.

Barbara Bressi won the women’s senior race in 23:54.

Ngetich and Chepkoech continue winning form in Nyahururu 

Cleophas Ngetich claimed his second victory of the AK/KCB Cross Country Series in Nyahururu on Saturday (28).

A fortnight after winning the second leg in Embu, Ngetich ensured back-to-back wins on the domestic circuit with a decisive victory over 10km in 30:30.

He defeated a solid field including Kenyan junior cross-country champion Dominic Kiptarus and 2007 world youth 1500m champion Fredrick Musyoki, who were second and third in 30:43 and 30:51.

Four weeks after winning the opening race of the series, Caroline Chepkoech also continued her fine form with her second win on home soil in the space of a month.

The 21-year-old ran away from Margaret Chelimo, who finished 13th at this year’s IAAF World Cross Country Championships, to win the senior women’s race in 35:01 and by 17 seconds.

Sheila Chepkirui, who won the world youth 1500m title at the age of 14 a decade ago, was third in 35:24.

Gemma Steel claimed her third title in a row at the Liverpool Cross Challenge on Saturday, which doubled up as the British trial race for the European Cross Country Championships in two weeks’ time.

In a repeat of last year’s race continental championship in Samokov, Bulgaria, where Steel outlasted Kate Avery for the title on a frozen course, Steel ground out another win over 8km in Liverpool’s Sefton Park. She broke the tape in 27:31 with Avery two seconds in arrears.

Steph Twell comprised the podium in 27:47 while Laura Muir – who enjoyed an outstanding summer on the track capped by a 3:58.66 1500m personal best in Monaco – finished fifth in 27:57. The latter will contest the under-23 title at the European Cross Country Championships.

In the senior men’s 10km race, Ross Millington claimed a comfortable win in 30:09 ahead of Dewi Griffiths in 30:22.

At the Canadian Cross Country Championships staged in Kingston, Ontario on Saturday, Canadian 10,000m record-holder Natasha Wodak retained her title in the senior women’s 8km in 27:14, coming home three seconds ahead of marathon specialist Rachel Hannah.

In the senior men’s 10km, Ross Proudfoot took the spoils in 30:07, winning by three seconds from Alex Genest.

Steven Mills (with assistance from Kip Evans) for the IAAF